The Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone

November, 22, 2021

The Silk Road Journal by Mahika Ming

The latest addition to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ). It is expected to create synergy in the BRI and CPEC as per Pakistani sources.  The farsighted decision has been taken at the CPEC's 10th Joint Cooperation Committee Meeting. This joint cooperation committee is a case study Sri Lankan public and elected officials should study very carefully as it focuses only on uninterrupted development work despite political changes within Pakistan. Of the dedicated 930 hectares, approx. 640 hectares are reclaimed land in southern Pakistan. The KCCDZ which is a fully environmental friendly project includes four new berths for the Karachi Port Trust. The total investment for the project is expected to be around USD four billion which includes a hi-tech fishing harbour with a fish processing zone to boost the fishing industry in Pakistan where the country faces the ocean only in the south. The proposed water treatment plants are expected to increase the efficiency of the marine ecosystem which will reduce pollution to very low levels. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had identified the project as a game changer for Pakistan as Port Cities are considered magnets to attract investment in the coming century according to strategists. Sri Lanka already got two such very rare similar opportunities with the Hambantota port and the Colombo Port city. It is questionable whether the local population had had the maturity to elect officials who can foresee the future for the development of the country like Prime Minister Khan at times. When facilities that could have been used to attract much needed hard currency were downgraded and used as storage facilities etc. the image an international investor would generate about Sri Lanka is negative.

Just as Sri Lanka and China, China and Pakistan relations have also proved to be all-weather bonds. As per Pakistani academia the KCCDZ is expected to be a 21st Century role model with the latest technologies, town planning, urban infrastructure, municipal amenities and eco friendly marine development etc. expected to raise the quality of life of the rural masses in the Baluchistan province. The southern province which was experiencing conflict due to lack of development opportunities and resource sharing anomalies has been moving forward rapidly with the CPEC.  Pakistan focusing on a blue economy with just only one ocean front should be an eye opener for the average Sri Lankan (living in an island surrounded by sea). It seems that there is a majority who always sees the negative aspects of economic development due to unnecessary fear generated by the misunderstanding of certain philosophies which they must be thinking they have mastered to end human suffering. Pakistan is believed to be using this new project as a confidence building too of global investors where as Sri Lankans once suspended the Port City project sending shock waves among potential investors and later presenting the same project as a show piece to impress investors. It is hard to imagine the mental status of those who acted in such a manner to block the country going forward. May be there are other regional players.

The writer is an analyst with interests in the financial and sustainable development sectors with postgraduate exposure in the Far East (